My dad drove us to San Antonio a couple days ago and we talked about…life. That’s kind of how me and my dad are—we either talk about ridiculous, trivial things like, I don’t know, “Decent Honey Mustard and Where To Buy It” OR super deep topics that stick with me forever like, “The Time A Man Died In My Arms.” We don’t have much of an in-between. Fart jokes or how mistakes can shape your future. The importance of washing your vehicle or the importance of family, friendship, and love.
So when careers and ambition came up, it started off as Dad casually listing every job he’s ever had (before, during, and after his 31 years in the Coast Guard). It was like a game—because the things he’s done are absurd. They sound like pure fiction. Movie-stuff.
Mowed lawns|Ranch laborer|Roofer|Tugboat oiler|Rode rodeo|Convenient store night manager|Seaman|Wrestler…yes, wrestler. I’ve seen the photos. Don’t tell him I wrote this, it’s supposed to be a family secret hahaha|EMT|Boat coxswain|Aviation structural mechanic|Search and rescue air crewman|Special agent|Chief warrant officer|Bailiff
Yeah, now you get it. Like, I’m sorry, what? How have you been all of those things? How have I never heard the word “coxswain” before? And how many people out there have had this many titles in one lifetime?
What I really started realizing though was—wow…Dad has done SO much in his life, traveled to SO many places, saved lives, earned awards—but his true happiness came from marrying my mom. Kind of crazy, right? To think that all those sappy cards, cheesy movies, and romance novels are *gasp* RIGHT about LOVE being the true purpose of life?! Ahhhhhh my life is a lie!
Except, oh yeah, that’s right, I’ve been a hopeless, disgusting romantic since maybe…second grade? I’ve always wanted the meet-cute, the traveling the world hand-in-hand, the poppin’ out babies…you know, that whole gross thing. When asked my CAREER AMBITIONS and LIFE GOALS I say things like, “I want to publish another novel and travel to a new country every year. Maybe get my PhD. Maybe teach college one day instead of high school.” And then in my head, I add, “Meet a lovely man and have a giant family and a really noisy house.”
My ambition has been a little misguided over the years. I think it’s a generational thing. Our parents had no problem stating their goals of settling down. They are content with “average lives” because that means love, family, friends—bliss. They have no qualms with “ordinary” or “mediocre.” This means happiness. Whereas my generation sees a conventional life as a failure—you’re not rich, you’re not famous, history books won’t talk about you, you’re not a household name, you didn’t shake the world? Oh, well then you’re a disappointment.
Everyone my age wants to be EVERYONE’s everything, instead of “settling” for being someone’s everything. It’s kind of sad. And it’s weird because we admit it, freely. I would LOVE for my novel to take off one day, landing me a publishing deal that I could skate on for a lifetime, sipping coffee by the beach and typing a few pages a day.
But do we really believe THAT’S what will lead to fulfillment? I think it’s far too easy to get caught up in that line of thinking—solely focusing on how to make your life more meaningful, exciting, memoir-worthy—constantly comparing yourself to “the average Joe.”
Having ambition is amazing—it shows confidence, it proves work-ethic, it displays creativity—it’s sexy. But if you let career ambition define you…and nothing else…what will you have when you’re wrinkly, sick…dying?
If all I ever have “to show for my life” (ugh, even that expression is a terrible tactic used to make people feel bad about…what exactly?) is a few students who thank me or a guy who digs my quirks and flaws or a kid who calls me Grandma and likes to read my old poetry notebooks, I’ll be pretty damn happy. That kid might be the last person to ever even remember my existence, but that’s OK, as long as I’ll be able to say that I did what I loved (I wrote, I taught, I traveled) and I loved who I wanted to love and they loved me back.
Dad has officially kicked Stupid Cancer in the ass and I wanted to share my ecstatic relief with the world in more than just a Facebook status. I hope this blog helps you understand why losing him to Stupid Cancer was not an option. I love you Dad!
My dad taught me that if you put salt on your drink napkin at restaurants, then your glass won’t stick.
He’s a pretty handy guy like that. He can fix anything, even if it’s not broken. You know that movie quote about a guy who’s lost in the woods only needing a pocket knife and a toothpick to be able to build a shopping mall? Yeah, that’s my dad. He probably wouldn’t even need the toothpick.
He used to be really good at carrying heavy things, but his back is now just as bad as mine and his strong arms that have moved me in and out of shitty apartments have been replaced by whoever is trying to date me (or vice versa) at the moment.
He’s taught me how to fish. More importantly, he taught me how to get away with reading a magazine in the boat while he fishes.
He’s taught me a lot of “reals”. Like what a real gentleman should be—and do and say and not do and not say. What a REAL handshake and hug should feel like.
He taught me how to appreciate good food. Notably—freshly caught fish v. frozen, medium steak v. well done, and homemade barbeque sauce and honey mustard v. packaged. He taught me how to recognize the taste of venison when it’s snuck into food, looking and acting like beef. He taught me how to cut meat properly.
My dad taught me that it can always be worse—you could be shot at or bitten by a rattlesnake or have to frantically jump off a hotel balcony half-naked. He taught me to “get a helmet” and “poop in one hand, wish in the other and see which one fills up faster”. He taught me sarcasm.
He taught me what kind of boys to bring home and what kind of boys to avoid. By watching the way he treats my mom, he’s taught me what kind of husband I want. By experiencing the way he treats me, he’s taught me what kind of father I want for my children.
He has TRIED to teach me about politics, cars, the military, and history. I have retained about 1% of that information. Sorry Dad.
He taught me not to put up with anybody’s shit.
He taught me that anyone can be a father, but it takes someone really special to be a dad.
He’s taught me so much over the years and I know that he’ll continue to teach me for many, many more years.
Thanks for being so strong Daddy. You couldn’t have given Mom a better Mother’s Day gift this year!
Cancer is that thing you hear about- on TV, movies, or from friends about friends of friends. You never think it’ll be you or YOUR parents. And if it is, you imagine it’ll just be a scare or a simple, no-brainer, caught it early type deal.
My dad is my stepdad, as most people know. Although once, at a wedding, a man said, “This your daughter? I can tell, you have the same smile.” Me and dad looked at each other and grinned. If he meant we both had lips and teeth, well sure. But dad is a 60-something Santa look-alike with baby blue eyes and a Texan tattoo.
Anyway, I obviously love the guy with all my heart and up until now, I kind of thought he was invincible. My parents, lovely tight-lipped haoles, thought it’d be best to wait until I was home for Christmas to tell me that Dad has prostate cancer.
Big mistake. 1. I’d just spent 12 hours on a plane. 2. Of course I’m going to be pissed that the whole damn family knows except me. 3. Dad made me think he was giving me a present.
Let me explain #3. Mom’s usually the one who buys me gifts, unless it has to do with technology or cars in any way. This is rare, since those things are usually expensive, and this is when Dad takes over. Whenever this happens, he’s like a small child. He cannot wait to give me the gift and he pesters Mom until she says, “Ok, fine!” This is exactly how he was acting all day. I was like, hell yeah, I’m about to get a new laptop or a kindle! What an extreme opposite to a gift.
At that point, I was bawling, yelling, and getting away with cussing all at the same time. Total psychotic episode. That is the only time in my life that my parents haven’t severely scolded me for saying “fuck.”
I was pissed that they hadn’t told me, but I was even more pissed that Dad hadn’t taken action yet. He has some great points and explanations about “his plan,” but I don’t really care. I’d rather the doctors chop off the entire lower half of his body if it meant he’d be alive longer. I don’t care that it’s his body and I don’t care about the nasty side effects. However, I apparently don’t get an opinion on my dad’s genitals. Go figure.
I realized that for them to sit me down and tell me this—and for Mom to be crying while they did so—this was obviously a lot more serious than Dad was letting on. They’ve both had cancer scares before. Dad even had to have a kidney removed. But those times either a) really weren’t that big of a deal, b) they were much better liars back then, or c) I was a naïve idiot. I’m going to go with a mix of all three.
Dad will probably not like that I wrote all this but… the way I see it, I need to cover all bases. I don’t pray. But I admit that I very well could be wrong about this God character. I’m probably not, but just in case, I need as many people out there who DO pray to pray.
If you don’t know my dad very well and you’d like to make your prayer more personable, here are some solid facts you’re welcome to use:
- Dad’s middle name is LeRoy. He despises it and using it to his face WILL get you a death glare.
- Dad loves Obama, vegetarian foods, marijuana, and Diet Coke. He wants to outlaw guns and move somewhere more his style, like L.A. He wishes he could spend more time at the beach, shopping, or volunteering in Africa with Hilary Clinton.
- He is the utter opposite of #2.
- Dad likes to seem tough, and he definitely can be. But at heart, he’s a complete teddy bear who cried when I wrote him a really cheesy poem once.
- Fishing, poker, and television crime shows. Obsessed.
- He has never treated me like a “stepdaughter”—I don’t really know what that even means really. All I know is that I can’t tell the difference between our relationship and the relationship all my friends have with their “blood fathers.” He definitely stepped up to the plate and filled a void in my life and I love him so much more for that.
All jokes aside, I’m scared shitless. I tried to make this blog lighthearted so that it wouldn’t be a completely depressing read. I love hiding my emotions behind humor! But I’ve never lost anyone in my life. I was too young to even remember when my great-grandparents died, or my Uncle Rick. I am definitely not ready to lose my dad.
SO BACK OFF, CANCER, YOU STUPID BITCH!
I’m sure he’ll be fine, as the doctor has apparently assured. Prostate cancer has a very high survival rate and Dad is more badass than most men. He’s been shot, he’s jumped out of helicopters to save lives, etc. etc. But I’d still appreciate the prayer thing. Or, ya’ know, whatever you think will help. Voodoo doll personifying cancer, spells, curses, meditation, light a candle… I don’t know very much about religions, this is clear. Or you can just give him a hug next time you see him! Or a Facebook hug, those are nice too.